Bellydance by Taliah at Hipnique studios is new to Tarpon Springs, having moved from Trinity about three weeks ago.
TARPON SPRINGS — When looking for workout styles and plans, many people look towards running, CrossFit, Zumba, general gym-going and even dance. Erin Taliah’s Hipnique Studio’s is bringing women another option: belly dance.
Bellydance by Taliah relocated to 39334 U.S. 19 N., in Bradley Plaza, from Trinity about three weeks ago, but Taliah’s journey started long before then.
“During all of my 20s I traveled the world,” Taliah said. She decided to delay college and do humanitarian work overseas.
Eventually, she landed in Israel, where she lived for three years and came face-to-face with belly dance for the first time.
“I fell in love with the diversity,” Taliah said. “I fell in love with the art of belly dance.”
Israel being the home of her belly dance discovery is an important point she emphasizes. “I think that’s important because of the authenticity of the art form,” Taliah said. “I didn’t just watch a YouTube video.”
While in Israel, she started to watch and explore belly dance, but she couldn’t find a place where she could learn.
Back the U.S., she decided to take classes. She trained formally for three years, including dancing 30 hours per week, learning new styles of music and performing until receiving the seal approval that she was ready to teach.
Taliah taught out of two studios in New Port Richey and Wesley Chapel.
“I had a couple of students,” Taliah said. In only a couple of months, however, it jumped from 20 to 50. As her numbers continued to go, so did Taliah.
“I grew so big, I needed my own space,” Taliah said. She opened her fist studio in Trinity. “It grew even more, [so I] hired different instructors to teach different forms of dance.”
She’s been teaching for six years, but due to multiple factors, including her belief that the arts are not established yet in southwestern Pasco, she decided to move her studio to Tarpon Springs.
“The Greek culture already has belly dance,” Taliah said, and many of her students lived in the area. It was the perfect spot. She also dances at Acropolis restaurant.
At Hipnique, burlesque, yoga, tribal style belly dance, Indian fusion and a new salsa class are all styles taught at the studio by various instructors, but the core of what goes on is belly dance.
“Everything here is based off beginner mentality,” Taliah said. “It’s mixed level, catering toward beginner.”
She also said it’s a great way to get fit.
“I haven’t been to a gym in over 10 years,” Taliah said with a laugh. The “gym pack mentality” that comes with heading to a traditional gym doesn’t come with the territory at Hipnique.
“We’re very warm and welcoming,” Taliah said. “There’s not a stigma where you have to look a certain way. There’s literally no demographics. There’s such a warm, safe environment.”
In fact, most Taliah’s dancers are middle-aged women, who she says often come with a higher level of self-esteem and confidence than even some of her younger dancers.
“They’re tired of the competing,” Taliah said. “I’m ready to feel sensual again. They seem to come in here ready to try something new, explore their personal identity in dance. They have a story.”
When new students visit the studio, they get personal time with Taliah and they help develop a plan based on their goals. She even offers opportunities for her students to perform.
“I give them creative exercises and assignments on their personal inventory,” Taliah said. “It gives it a very personal feel. It’s not that gym in-and-out. It’s something that stays with you.”
She said though most of her students start by coming one a week, they end up averaging three to four times a week when they truly get into it. The prime time for class is 6 p.m., and classes last until 10 p.m.
Taliah teaches students ages 16 and up. They cost $99 per month or $55 for 2 weeks. They come with a free coin belt, access to the student practice video library and more. Classes are $12 per class if you drop in.
“Teaching is my art, it’s my passion,” Taliah said. “Belly dancing is like a journey. It’s not a level system. It’s a very personal journey. We share our lives through dance.”